After the class with Jenny and the girls, the rest of the day went somewhat the same. Every chance I got I attempted to stretch out my sore muscles. I didn’t have Brit’s extra support anymore; so instead, I just limped faster to each class. At least today, all of the teachers wanted to speak their opinions instead of the factual lectures; it might mean more homework, but I was able to rest my eyes throughout the day. In preparation for practice.
Practice. Coach was a smidge nice. He was sitting in his chair, drinking his coffee, as the whole team slowly waddled onto the pool deck. Jerry, Ken, Matthew, and I were all leaning against each other waiting for Coach’s command.
“Begin the stretching warm-up,” Coach said between sips.
Imagine sloth camels trying to do yoga; watching us do the stretches’ probably seemed similar to that. As a co captain, I tried to be the example of perfection, but like Jerry I was stumbling around trying to at least stand up. Don’t even mention balancing.
“Coach we are done. What is warm-up now?” I coughed out, as I wasted all my energy on stretching.
“Are you guys really that dead? You all look like you will topple over if I tap you.” As is to see if it was true, Coach got up from his chair and poked Ken in the side. Sure enough, Ken jumped and fell into the pool. “Right as always.”
We all busted into a crippled laugh, because it hurt too much to do a full belly laugh.
” You all have eight hundred yards freestyle. Mix it up. Enjoy this warm-up because practice will be great,” Coach finished with a smirk.
A smirk. ‘Great.‘ So much for thinking that Coach might be a little merciful. “Begin,” I yelled, just before I jumped into the pool to start.
Coach wasn’t lying. Practice was difficult, but was also good. After the warm-up, Coach had written up the set on the white board. There was lots of pulling and kick sets; not much swimming sets. Believe me, after the last two days, this was the best compromise. I knew Coach wouldn’t give up the chance to push us past our breaking point. Finishing the set, my muscles were burning, but it felt like a strange soothing burn. If you are an athlete you understand me; if not, I don’t know how to explain it more.
“Nice job today, all of you,” Coach said as he scanned the entire pool. “You should all be proud of yourselves. I wanted to push all of you to your breaking point. Then, for good measure, beyond it. I am proud of the workout you gave me. Lanes two through eight, you have a six hundred cooldown; again, slow it down and focus of your breathing.”
Then Coach turned to our lane, “You four will just continue to swim until all the lower lanes are finished. The…big incident that happened a few days ago, is causing me to leave practice early again. Can I count on you four?”
Without hesitation we said, “Yes, you can count on us.“
“Good,” Coach said as he walked off towards the exit. The lower lanes saw Coach leave and begun to goof off.
“We are still in practice time. Do as Coach said or I will relay your bad behavior tomorrow,” Jerry said.
I was thankful to Jerry; I was happy to not be the bad cop again. To help Jerry out I left the wall to begin our very long cooldown.
“So George, any more news about your ‘girlfriend‘?” Jerry teased as we were walking to my Jeep. Thursday nights always were spent at my house with the guys; because my dad always wanted barbeque. I also assumed my mom wanted to play hostess; whenever she was home, she would make sure to be home for a Thursday.
“Yeah, tell us all the gross details,” Ken and Matthew said as they pretended to kiss each other.
“Let’s talk when we get to my house,” I said as I threw my bag in the back, maybe a little too hard.
“Oh. Sure dude. No problem,” Jerry answered probably realizing he hit a sore topic.
He would be right. Great, now I have to tell my story of humiliating rejection to the guys. The jokes are going to be unbearable. The car ride seemed to take forever; even though, I drove like something was chasing us. I really didn’t want to attempt this talk in the car. Everyone in the car was silent. Jerry was in the passenger seat and he had pulled out his phone to do the mindless swiping. Ken was in the back with his eyes closed. Matthew was just staring out the window. At least the guys understood and were understanding in this situation.
Finally pulling into the driveway, I paused, “I will tell you guys what happened, but I would like to wait until after dinner. I would rather my mom not know; she would go ballistic or over the top dramatic at me if she found out.”
Matthew grab my shoulders from behind, “No problem Mister Sensitive; we will follow your lead.”
Sighing in annoyance, I got out. They all followed pursuit. They would rather not be the first one to enter the house first and find my mom waiting. She usually gives kisses on the cheek to the first one through the door. Jerry and Ken have both experienced this; their faces afterwards were priceless. I begin to open the door, just as Jerry shoves Matthew in front of me, right into my mom’s embrace. Sucker. Mom gives him a huge smooch on his left cheek; ending with a tight squeeze hug.
Instinctively we all chuckle silently to ourselves; the chuckles quickly die down as we watch Matthew shaking in annoyance. “Mom, I’m right here,” I say as I step beside her; trying to save my friendship with Matthew.
Mom suddenly lets go of Matthew and looks at me, and then back at him, “I should have known; Matthew is quite taller than you.” She says as she tilts her head all the back to look up into Matthew’s face. “Sorry my dear,” she says as she steps away from Matthew.
“No problem Mrs. Matthews. Thank you for commenting on your son’s current height situation; it has always been a deep topic for us to discuss with him,” Matthew said all annoyance gone an smiling once again.
“Whatever, lets go find Dad and eat! I’m starving,” switching topics as I walk towards the kitchen area. Why must they always jab at my height.
As always the guys follow my lead, setting their bags down in the entry hall, and following me to the kitchen.
Dad is grilling up some delicious smelling meat, “I made lots today thinking you would want extra for the all the pain you all are in.”
“Great idea Mr. Matthews.. Don’t expect there to be any leftovers,” Jerry says as he pulls up a chair. We all dig in!